IBM Study: The Marketing Executive of Tomorrow Must Understand Technology

marketing executive of tomorrowLast week, IBM published its State of Marketing 2012 report. The study surveyed more than 350 marketing professionals across a wide range of industries and geographies.

A key finding was that by 2017, CMOs will have greater control of the IT budget than CIOs. What does that mean for marketing executives of mid-market companies?

You must embrace digital marketing and technology to be effective in the future.

Some of us have already begun. For others, it’s an intimidating endeavor.

Where to Begin

If you’re a right-brained creative thinker or have been avoiding the digital explosion, fear not – you have time to learn. Take things one step at a time, and if you’d rather not dive into the weeds in certain areas, delegate tasks to technically-savvy marketers on your team.

The key for you is to own a high-level understanding of how technology is driving the way the market will interact with most companies in the future, and to have the detailed knowledge on your team so your future marketing efforts evolve as the buying landscape changes.

Here are five suggestions to start:

  1. Review how companies are using social media for customer service. Twitter and Facebook are more than just promotional sites. Their interactive nature allows you to have conversations with your customers. Check out how Bill Gerth of Comcast handles customer service on Twitter. If your customers are interacting with other companies on social networks today, they’ll expect to be able to interact with you at some point in the future. Think about ways to move your customer service and support online.
  2.  Learn about marketing automation. Companies like Marketo, Eloqua and HubSpot provide marketing automation software platforms to help automate inbound marketing efforts. They enable you to customize landing pages, automate email messages based on behaviors, track and view user actions on your website, easily segment information based on rules, and view metrics on all of these actions. This automation allows you to provide relevant and customized communications instead of “one-size-fits-all” email and traditional media blasts. What parts of your current marketing efforts would benefit from automation?
  3. Understand data aggregation tools and social dashboards. Sites like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Quora contain a lot of information about the people behind the accounts. Much of that information is freely available on the web, and other tools are now aggregating that information so that a single email address can provide us with a user’s photo, current job, job history, location, age, education, personal interests, and photos of their family, friends and colleagues. Take a longer-term view on this, but think about how you can use this information in your marketing and customer service efforts to provide a more relevant experience with your brand.
  4. Ponder how to use web apps to connect with your market. An extension of #1, it’s clear that social media sites are moving into enterprise web apps. Salesforce.com has integrated social media into its CRM. Microsoft acquired Yammer on Monday for $1.2 billion. ZenDesk and Uservoice are becoming popular helpdesk systems. Where is your customer and prospect data stored? Could you be more effective if your communications with your market are tied directly to this data?
  5. Check out how companies are using mobile apps. Mobile apps are hot right now – by 2014 mobile internet usage is predicted to overtake desktop usage. VCs are pouring money into mobile platforms, for payments, games, and interaction. People are using smartphones in stores to research products and compare prices. For brands, mobile apps aren’t money makers – they’re extensions of their web presence. B2C companies such as Safeway, Starbucks and CVS are using mobile apps to continue engaging with their market. A few years from now, B2B companies will do the same. What information could you provide via mobile apps to your market?

 

There’s a tremendous amount of data associated with all of of these activities – conversations stored, engagement metrics calculated, customer service ratings logged. Computer hardware and software manufacturers and IT departments have been focused on the supply chain, accounting and finance and operations areas over the past few decades, and much of that is now standardized.

The new frontier for business technology is the marketing function.

And the most successful marketing executives in the future will have a strong understanding of how to leverage their IT department in their marketing and sales activities.

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